The Mercedes-Benz name we know today was established in 1926. Before this date, Mercedes and Benz were separate brands, and that’s how this Benz-Mercedes Rabbit-the-First became to be.
Owned by Jay Leno and featured on a recent episode of his online series “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the car was built in 1921 with the purpose of racing, using a Benz engine originally developed for an aeroplane and an old Mercedes chassis.
Leno describes this Benz-Mercedes Rabbit-the-First as a “low-flying aircraft.” It’s based on a 1908 Mercedes chassis, stuffed with a 1914 Benz 230-horsepower aero engine salvaged from a crashed World War I plane. The car is chain driven, and uses a period Mercedes transmission with a modern clutch.
At the turn of the century, airplane engines were like bigger, more powerful versions of car engines, so swaps like this were fairly common, Leno noted. The engine was indeed pretty advanced for